Networks cast aside competition for an hour to co-broadcast the annual special “Stand Up to Cancer ’12” (7 p.m., ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, HBO, ION, LMN, Showtime, Starz, TBS, VH1). Look for speeches, anecdotes and pleas for contributions and action from celebrity presenters, including show producer Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Seth Rogen.
Musical guests include Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Coldplay (via remote from Sweden). The “Stand Up” charity promises that 100 percent of all public donations will go directly to cancer research.
• “Great Performances” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “Paul McCartney’s Live Kisses,” a documentary look at the former Beatle’s visit to the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles, where he recorded an album of musical standards from the first half of the 20th century.
The “Live Kisses” concert captures McCartney singing such chestnuts as “Home,” ‘‘More I Cannot Wish You,” ‘‘Always,” ‘‘Bye Bye Blackbird” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”
McCartney’s return to Capitol is both fitting and ironic. When Capitol Records distributed the Beatles’ records in the United States, the band’s unprecedented popularity all but eclipsed the label’s roster of more established artists, including Nat King Cole, who recorded American standards. Furthermore, the success of singer-songwriters like McCartney, John Lennon and Bob Dylan ushered in an era when it became all but mandatory for popular artists to sing their own material instead of interpreting the work of professional lyricists and composers, as did Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and other artists in the pre-Beatles era.
That said, McCartney’s “Kisses” is hardly the first album of old standards by a once popular rock, pop or country star. In fact, these efforts have become a common midcareer or late-career pit stop, just one step removed from recording a Christmas album.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Kane purges his political machine on “Boss” (8 p.m., Starz).
• A grandmother has a black widow’s touch on “Deadly Women” (10 p.m., ID).
• “Lewis Black: In God We Rust” (11 p.m., Comedy Central) presents the “Daily Show” contributor’s caustic take on social and political matters.