Reality show contestants vie for ‘Fame’

TV goes into recycling mode once again as dozens of singers, dancers and performers vie for Debbie Allen’s approval on the new entertainment “reality” series “Fame” (7 p.m., NBC). In tonight’s two-hour premiere, Allen will lead hopefuls through a grueling performance boot camp before winnowing down the group to the final 24 contestants. This all sounds terribly familiar.

  • Speaking of fame, what happens when it ends? “Your 15 Minutes Are Up” (8 p.m., E!) catches up with the “stars” of several reality programs to see how they handled their sudden celebrity as well as their return to obscurity. Interviews include several “Real World” cast members, as well as last year’s “American Idol” sweethearts Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, whose “instant” popularity has endured for almost a year. Reality-show producer Mark Burnett and “Big Brother” casting director Robyn Kass discuss the selection process for their series and how they use psychologists to screen potential contestants.
  • Shortly before he died, documentary filmmaker and four-time Academy Award winner Charles Guggenheim completed the film “Berga: Soldiers of Another War” (7 p.m., PBS). “Berga” recalls the stories of American soldiers, captured during the Battle of the Bulge, who were segregated from other American POWs and transported to work in a salt mine associated with the Buchenwald concentration camp. Nazi guards selected soldiers who they thought “looked Jewish” or had Jewish names. It turned out that fewer than a third of the men sent to the slave labor camps were in fact Jews.

Tonight’s other highlights

  • The gang reconvenes in 2008 on the repeat two-hour series finale of “Dawson’s Creek” (7 p.m., WB).
  • Scheduled on “60 Minutes II” (8 p.m., CBS): the talent behind the film “Finding Nemo”; female suicide bombers.
  • Bob Costas interviews Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (8 p.m., HBO).
  • Scheduled on “48 Hours Investigates” (9 p.m., CBS): three generations of women from one family discuss life in a New Orleans brothel.
  • A bookie’s murder inspires a high-wire defense on “Law & Order” (9 p.m., NBC).
  • Tom Brokaw hosts “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (9 p.m., Discovery) and interviews military experts about lessons that can be learned from this brief conflict.

Late night

Michael Douglas and Todd Rundgren appear on “Late Show with David Letterman” (10:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno plays host to Rosie O’Donnell, Neal McDonough and Boomkat on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC).