EXCLUSIVE: What does it say about how we value our literary lions now when Jonathan Franzen is the first living author placed on Time magazine’s cover since Stephen King appeared there a decade ago? Now producer Scott Rudin has closed a deal for movie rights to Freedom, the first novel that Jonathan Franzen has published since his National Book Award winner The Corrections nearly 10 years earlier. Farrar, Straus and Giroux doesn’t officially publish the book until August 31. Freedom’s focus is the slowly disintegrating relationship of Patty and Walter Berglund, socially conscious college sweethearts, who lose each other and their own moral compasses over the years to temptations both corporate and carnal. Early reviews say its richly drawn characters compares favorably with The Corrections, which Rudin years back also optioned. Scott hasn’t yet set up Freedom at a studio or assigned a writer to adapt it. But I’m told Franzen’s reps at CAA completed the deal just before the issue of Time hit newsstands today. The venerable newsweekly has put many authors on its cover over the years, including J.D. Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Wolfe, George Orwell, William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, John Updike, John Irving and Michael Crichton.