With Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as the Wiz, this urban retelling of
The Wizard Of Oz
needed an appropriate director. Unfortunately,
Saturday Night Live
director John Badham bailed, so the gig went to Sidney Lumet, a specialist in intense dramas with zero musical experience.
Is It Really So Strange?
It's a slightly different meaning of 'urban,' but Lumet at least had form making films in New York - the Wiz's replacement for Kansas. And, at the time, Lumet's last three films had won 6 Oscars from 22 nominations, so the producers gambled on prestige.