findViewById works only after setContentView has been called on the layout containing the View that needs to be found.

It's possible to remove the Android status bar programmatically, just use the following lines of code, after triggering an orientation change and returning to the original orientation:

this.requestWindowFeature(Window.FEATURE_NO_TITLE); // to remove the title
int flag = WindowManager.LayoutParams.FLAG_FULLSCREEN;
getWindow().setFlags(flag, flag);