The film takes place on a college campus in the Northeastern United States. Derrick Webb (James Marsden), Cathy Jones (Lena Headey), and Travis (Norman Reedus) are students as well as roommates. They all take a Communications class with Professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian), in which the subject of gossip is brought up. For their final project, the three students decide to start a rumor and track and see the results. One night while at a nightclub, they run into Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) and her boyfriend Beau Edson (Joshua Jackson). It is common knowledge through the campus that Naomi is saving her virginity for marriage. Jones (as Cathy is called throughout the movie) in particular has a problem with Naomi's wealth and sense of entitlement. Furthermore, Naomi seems to have started a rumor about Jones having sex with Professor Goodwin.
While at the party, Derrick meets a girl and brings her upstairs. At this point the girl becomes ill; Derrick then notices Beau and Naomi in the adjacent room kissing. Beau attempts to have sex with Naomi but is rejected. Derrick, Jones, and Travis proceed to begin a rumor that Naomi and Beau had sex. Naomi finds out pretty soon about the rumor, but she denies it to her friends and Naomi becomes convinced she was raped by Beau, under the encouragement of her friends, she reports it to the police. As a result, Beau gets kicked off campus. It's eventually revealed that Derrick and Naomi came from the same home town and they were a couple in high school, much like Beau, Naomi refused Derrick and Derrick raped Naomi. Derrick denied the allegation and said Naomi only made it up so her father wouldn't be upset with her. Derrick wasn't very popular in school after the allegation so he moved after graduation and intentionally wanted to spread a rumor about Naomi to get her back. Beau finds out about this, and the two fight each other. Derrick manages to manipulate Beau into thinking they're both victims of Naomi's lies. Derrick goes to Naomi's dorm room to confront her, but Naomi attacks him and Derrick leaves. The next day, Naomi is pronounced dead and because of Derrick and Naomi's past (plus the new marks on Derrick's face,) the campus accuses Derrick of killing her. Investigators come to Derrick's apartment to search for clues and they have intense suspitions that Derrick's responsible. Under the overwhelming psychological pressure, Derrick admits to raping Naomi to Travis. The investigation was proven to be a setup by Jones, Travis, and their professor, who got Derrick's confession of raping Naomi all those years ago. Naomi was still alive at the end too.
James Marsden as Derrick Webb
Lena Headey as Cathy Jones
Norman Reedus as Travis
Kate Hudson as Naomi Preston
Eric Bogosian as Prof. Goodwin
Edward James Olmos as Det. Curtis
Joshua Jackson as Beau Edson
Sharon Lawrence as Det. Kelly
Marisa Coughlan as Sheila
Novie Edwards as Ms. Waters
Gossip received negative reviews from critics and currently holds a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 65 reviews.
The film opened at #12 at the North American box office making $2.3 million USD in its opening weekend. The film suffered a 59% decline in box office earnings the following week, descending to #17.