It is now anybody's guess when Pope Joan will go into production. You may remember that the adaptation of Donna Cross's novel hit a snag back in April because John Goodman abruptly departed the film. He was subsequently sued, and production of the film, which was supposed to start shooting in May, was put on hold. Now, the film has also lost its director, Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum), who has been fired. Constantin Films gave Schlöndorff the pink slip following the filmmaker's remarks to a newspaper about his problems with Constantin's practice of simultaneously making extended versions of its films for play on television (ooh, does that mean there's a longer cut of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer out there for my enjoyment?). I'm not sure what his stated problems were, whether he feels the practice makes audiences more patient to wait for films to hit their TV sets or if he simply has a problem with his work being out of his control and released in a cut that isn't his own.
The film will (eventually) star Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity) as the title character, a woman who pretends she's a man and manages to become Pope for two years in the 9th century. Although this film is based on a recent novel, Pope Joan is a legendary figure in history, and may have actually existed. She was previously portrayed by Liv Ullman in a 1972 film from director Michael Anderson. It should be a monumental role for Potente, who follows such Oscar-winning, cross-dressing actresses as Hilary Swank, Gwyneth Paltrow and Linda Hunt (plus cross-dressing/cross-gendering nominees Felicity Huffman, Julie Andrews and Ingrid Bergman). Pope Joan had been re-set to begin shooting in six weeks (they must have finally replaced Goodman), but it will probably be delayed again while Constantin searches for a new director. Meanwhile, Schlöndorff will just have to look forward to screening his latest, Ulzhan, at Toronto this fall.