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A peek at the Utica Branch of NBC's "The Office"

By Dave Dellecese

Tonight's the night you can catch several Utica mentioning on NBC's hit show, "The Office."

This Thursday, the cast of NBC's the office head to the Utica Branch of the Dunder Mifflin paper company. Now, according to the show's writers, Utica was one of areas originally considered to set the show's main branch. When they settled upon Scranton, Pennsylvania, Utica and the other possibilities made their way to a list, and are slowly creeping their way back into the show.

"We always knew that Scranton was one branch and corporate was in New York," said Greg Daniels, a writer-director on the show. "And a lot of the possible other cities that could have been the main branch i put in as the other branches. And then some of them are just comedy sounding names...like Yonkers...which we're still a little iffy on...whether that was a hacky move. But then there's Utica and Albany and Buffalo...Camden..."

"I think it widens our world," said Justin Spitzer, another writer on the show. "I think we get very insulated. We have a giant cast of 14 people. Even with that, you're in a couple of rooms every time. And to remember there's a wider world out there and there's corporate and all these other branches. You realize this is just one part of a larger hole."

Unfortunately, the road trip is not on the most pleasant of terms, as the aptly titled "Branch Wars" episode pits the well-known Scranton, Pennsylvania branch against the Utica branch...and Steve Carrell's character, Michael Scott, is none too pleased about it.

So...it's Scranton versus Utica...where's your money placed on the Branch Wars?

And if you ask the fans...well, Utica may have to be prepared to have a fight on its hands.

"Its going to be very interesting," said Heather Kirkpatrick of Glen Carbon, Illinois. "I can't wait to see who's going to win the branch wars. I think Michael's going to start some pranking that ultimately might lead to Karen doing something to get him back."

"I m sure he'll take it well in hand and by the time they get done they'll be sorry they ever messed with Michael Scott," said Jim Snyder, a Scranton native.

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John Matthews, a Utica native who attended the convention in Scranton, has started up his own website supporting the Utica Branch at: www.theuticabranch.com

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