When learning another language, we often make the mistake of subconciously assuming that there is only one word for things. Synonyms exist in other languages too! Stanotte means tonight, whereas stasera means this evening. Try to think of the use of buonanotte and buonasera. The first means goodnight, whereas the latter means good evening.
It's not a love affair with the gerund. It's a matter of what the most common/appropriate way of saying it is. I use the simple present 99% of the time and it has always been accepted. But you don't ask someone "What do you do tonight?" That just sounds weird. You ask "What are you doing tonight?"
Not really, in English you cannot use "making" in that question. The correct verb to use is "do", there is no logic to follow, you just have to memorize the use of "do" before "tonight", as when you say "I am doing my homework", you should not say "I am making my homework".